Friday, January 18, 2013
No Good Deed Goes Un-Yelled-At
Here's how it went down: I teach at night, and my class gets out at 10:00. My students left when class ended, and I noticed that some of them had left behind trash, so I did a quick little cleanup. (One of them actually left an unopened banana, which I took home. Score!) I see that one student has left a hoodie, and as it's a small class, I decide to see if I can figure out whose hoodie it is.
Lo and behold, the student left a Moleskine notebook in the pocket, and his notebook had his name on the cover. Super. So I figured I'd give him a quick call and tell him to come retrieve his hoodie before the building gets locked.
Only this particular student got into my class from the wait list, and all I have in front of me is the Reigstrar's print-out with contact info for the students who registered on time. But wait, I thought. I know, because it's been mentioned a couple times, that this particular student lives with two other students in the class, and they're probably all walking home together right now. So I'll just call one of the other two (let's call him Albert) and ask him to pass along the message about the hoodie.
What I didn't know was that the phone numbers the Registrar listed, while usually the students' own cell phone numbers, aren't always the students' own cell phone numbers. And here's what happened:
MALE VOICE: Hello?
ME: Hey, Albert, it's Ruby. I noticed that--
MALE VOICE: Who is this?
ME: Uh, it's Ruby, and--
FEMALE VOICE (screaming angrily in the background): Who is it?
MALE VOICE: Who is this, exactly?
ME: Oh, sorry. This...must be a wrong number.
MALE VOICE (angrily...oh, hell, just assume that during the whole conversation, everything the man and woman say to me is said with extreme anger, shock, and disdain, like I've just tried to charge them for the undercoating of their used car): You're trying to reach Albert?
FEMALE VOICE: He's trying to reach Albert?
ME: Yes, sorry, but--
MALE VOICE: And may I ask why you're calling our home at 10:15 at night?
ME: I didn't realize this wasn't his cell phone--
MALE VOICE: You thought this was his cell phone?
FEMALE VOICE: Why would he think this was Albert's cell phone?
ME: Look, I apologize. I'm one of Albert's professors--
MALE VOICE: You're his professor, and you're calling him at 10:15 at night?
FEMALE VOICE: Oh my God, it's his professor?
MALE VOICE: Professor of what? What is the name of the class you teach?
ME: It's...a hamster class. Hamsters in Baskets. Sorry, I was just calling because Albert's friend left his jacket in class, and I don't have his friend's phone number, so I thought I'd call Albert's cell, but I didn't realize this wasn't his cell number.
MALE VOICE (incredibly skeptical): Yeah. And what exactly is your name?
ME: It's Ruby from Richmond.
MALE VOICE (slowly, like he's writing it down for a police report): Ruby from Richmond.
ME: Yes, and again, I'm sorry, I thought this was Albert's cell--
MALE VOICE: Do you want Albert's cell phone number?
FEMALE VOICE: Don't give him his cell phone number! Are you crazy?
ME: No, uh, don't worry about it. I'm sorry. Have a good night.
FEMALE VOICE: Albert's professor is calling him at 10:15 at night? Why the hell is--
I decided not to try to call Albert's other roommate. I'm sure my Dean will get a call about evil Professor Ruby who calls parents in the middle of the night but--even worse--did so while trying to call a student in the middle of the night.
I should have taken a variant of Beaker Ben's advice: Don't care more about their own outerwear than they do.